Growing up today seems to be harder than ever. Children and young people face a host of pressures that were unheard of only a few decades ago. The omnipresence of social media and an increasingly screen based lifestyle, if not managed, can lead to stress and lack of sleep.
According to the YoungMinds charity, some 90% of school heads have reported an increase in the numbers of students experiencing anxiety or stress over the last five years. Add to this, the pressures of an increasingly competitive school environment and what you have is deteriorating child wellbeing.
Navigating the terrain of scoring good grades to win a place at a leading school is a strain felt equally by children across all levels and their parents.
Public examinations are also increasingly competitive and stressful. Just a few marks either way in exams can make the difference between a ‘good pass’ at GCSE or simply ‘a pass’. At A-level, an increasingly slim margin can see a teenager achieving the grades to win a place at a leading university rather than having to accept one further down the rankings.
This anxiety is an antecedent to extra help being sought in the form of private tutoring. But although private tutoring is now regarded as the norm, parents might well be asking whether tuition could add to this pressure and undermine wellbeing.
Should children be spending time outside of school hours on their academic work when other activities can bring variety, build character and bolster self-esteem?
One of the conclusions of a recent Commons joint inquiry into young people’s mental health was that achieving a balance between promoting academic attainment and wellbeing should not be regarded as a ‘zero-sum activity.’
In other words, one does not cancel out the other. In fact the opposite should be true. Wellbeing increases children’s capacity to learn by lessening anxiety, improving confidence and equipping them to handle pressure.
This virtuous circle can be promoted by tutoring, not lessened by it, through a true partnership between the tutoring company, the family’s tutor, parents and the child themselves.
According to Mylène Curtis, the founder and managing director of Fleet Tutors, all the obvious things are essential to a child’s wellbeing. A good diet, exercise, being outdoors and varied interests, all play in to a young person’s wellbeing and their ability to perform academically. And, of utmost importance is to be happy.
Within this, tutors can play an important role in helping reduce pressure and give the child a sense of perspective about their work.
‘It is about balance in everything. The time children do spend outside school on their academic work can and should be productive rather than time spent in a panic and that is where a calm, reassuring tutor can help.’
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